I want to take up cycling but I'm sure how much I should take on with my first cycle. I don't want to be out of action for a week just because I tried to go too far on my first cycle.

So how far roughly should I try cycling on my first time out?

  • 4
    Only far enough where you are sure you can get a ride home when your ass all of a sudden catches on fire.
    – DMoore
    Jul 30, 2013 at 5:41
  • This question gets loooots of traffic lol. I think it is due to a misinterpretation of the title ;) Nov 16, 2020 at 8:04

9 Answers 9


I suspect uncomfortable butt issues will get you first, before you ride far enough to do anything to your legs. (Intriguingly, I have been told it is actually the little hairs on your butt pulling and tearing as you sit that cause the discomfort. I always figured it was about building muscles there to sit on vs bones/fat).

However, absolute mileage is meaningless, since it would depend on your base that you start from. If you happen to be a 2:45 marathoner, then going out for your first ride probably will not be an issue.

I do not think you will hurt your legs enough to rack you up for a week, in almost anything you could do.

Try riding around the neighborhood, since the biggest issue will be getting your seat comfy on the seat.

  • 1
    Yep, your butt will hurt first; your knuckles too, perhaps.
    – givanse
    Aug 24, 2012 at 1:58

Basically, just ride. Don't tear after it, just get used to the bike and being on the saddle for a time. I would suggest that for the first few times, at least until you get used to the bike and how it feels, that you stay close to home and do loops around a park or something similar.

The last thing you want to do is decide "I'm going to go ride 20 miles", get 10 miles away from the house and find you can't ride any more.

As you get more and more used to the bike, the exercise, how everything feels, you can start going longer distances, picking up the pace, do things like that.

I would also strongly advise that you get a helmet, if you haven't already. Even for a 1 mile jaunt around the block, wear it. Anytime you are on the bike, helmet is on head. I've seen people fall over at a stop sign and crack their head open on the pole. IMO, bikes shouldn't be legal to sell without a helmet.

  • 1
    +1 for the helmet. Totally natural for me to wear one so I always forget to mention it.
    – Baarn
    Aug 24, 2012 at 14:28
  • 1
    My son is not allowed to pick his bike up from the wall without his helmet on. No helmet no bike. Its simple.
    – geoffc
    Aug 24, 2012 at 15:33

It depends on your general fitness level, what kind of bike you have and where you are driving.

I stopped mountainbiking about 10 years ago and didn't do any other sports. When I started again 4 months ago a trip of 20km (12.4 miles), road only, took me a good hour and I was pretty exhausted. The first tour of 30km some days later really killed my legs. Now I can ride for 70 or 80km straight and even did a 130km trip with a break.

Start low, try out how much you can do. Try to push your limit further each time. On your first trip I'd recommend a short tour of 10km (6 miles) just to get used to riding your bike.

You might consider buying some cycling pants with an inlay, they really help reducing the pain in the …. I'd recommend a speedometer, too. It is nice to see how fast and far you have gone and how much time you needed.

If you are starting to get more serious about bicycling I'd recommend buying some clipless pedals and cleated shoes. They allow you to not only push but also pull your pedals.


We only bought our mountain bikes yesterday, we rode 8 miles and was fine this morning "BUT" may have pushed myself too far today by doing 20 miles and ive got a horrible feeling that my legs will refuse to get back on it tomorrow lol. My backside, my legs, my arms and my shoulders are aching like mad. So I defo think 20 miles is too far...


Just do a short loop close to home . Few mile circuit . Then just keep increasing more and more laps until you have decent fitness level . That way you can push yourself and you will still be close to home should you get exhausted .


I know this is an old post but I'd like to share my experiences and welcome peoples thoughts.

I bought my first hybrid bike about 3 weeks ago (the last bike I had was back in the 80s when I was a teenager). Most days I go out on my morning break for 10 minutes, lunch for 10-15 minutes and afternoon break for another 10 minutes. I do laps of the business park where I work and each lap is about 1.4km. In total I must do a minimum of 7 km each day (weather permitting). My average speed varies between 15 kph to 18 kph. The road is pretty flat but strava tells me that there's a 4m elevation. It's also quite cold, wet and windy at the moment. Some rides it does feel like a struggle and I guess its too early to notice improvement. I'm sure within the next few months I'll be able to see a vast improvement to my starting stats.

I see your original question was 5 years ago and would like to hear how you're getting on but ultimately what I'd like to say to anyone else thinking of starting is, no matter your age or fitness level you do what you can when you can. If you can only manage 10 minutes a day then do 10 minutes a day - every little helps. If you think you can go that extra mile then try it. But....don't push it and don't try and compete with a friend because they can manage 60 km or can ride for an hour

most of all, enjoy it. My legs ache after just 10 minutes so definitely need to improve and get fitter but I still do enjoy the time out on my bike :)


I recall reading an article in one of the cycling magazines many years ago that discussed this topic. Their recommendation was to ride no more than 3-4 MINUTES for your first ride. Then skip a day. On the next ride - no more than 5- 7 MINUTES. Skip a day. On the third ride - about 10 minutes. Thereafter build up by 5-10 minutes increments.

This was not about the physical conditioning of the rider, it was about conditioning the groin area to accept the pressure of the near full weight of the rider. There are lots of very sensitive nerves that run though the area where the seat applies pressure. If they are subjected to too much pressure too quickly, they'll rebel, and you won't enjoy what they do.

Wearing proper cycling shorts will help make the transition. They have padding of various materials and no seams in the crotch area. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT wear any pants that have a seam down the center of the crotch!


I know this post is old, but the same question will arise every season.

I rode 3800+ kilometers this summer. I ride a lot.
Even though I spend the winter XC skiing, and then run in the spring while waiting for biking weather, I still ride just perhaps 5K my first time out each year. Because I learned that if I ride as much as I feel like riding the first time out, I will be sore, and it will actually delay getting my biking season up to speed. If you ride "too little" the first time out, so what? You lost a single day of training on your way to your pro cycling career? Err on the side of too little, and take notes. Next year, you can be more ambitious, if needed.


I just went riding for the first time in 20 years. Went with a couple friends who go riding every day so I told them hey, I’m pretty rusty so take it easy on me. Well... we ended up biking 15 miles. And I don’t recommend this. At the last mile I had to stop suddenly and my legs were shot and went into some sort of 3 second paralysis and my ass ended up on the street. Now my side and knees hurt cause I landed on them. My ass hurts something aweful and I’m pretty sure my legs are going to fall off my body tomorrow. I probably also should have been wearing a helmet. And the bike I borrowed should have had breaks. Several times during the ride I thought I was going to die. So ride a bike with breaks and a helmet. Also I would consider drinking water either before or bring some water with you or ride somewhere that has water somewhere. Anywhere. I was so very thirsty riding my bike without a helmet or breaks or even a seat cushion. The seat was so uncomfortable I would have almost preferred not having a seat at all. Something to consider. Aside from that the ride was fun and exciting. I will ride tomorrow again if I’m not in the hospital.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.